20 Years of Giving Meals and Feeling Thankful: East Windsor NJ Techs on Thanksgiving

Since the mid-1990s, Comcast employees from East Windsor, N.J., have taken the Thanksgiving holiday as an opportunity to give back and help make sure people in our community who are less fortunate have a special Thanksgiving dinner.

This year, the group of more than 30 Comcast employees and their families was comprised of those who have volunteered for more than 20 Thanksgivings as well as new employees and first-time volunteers.

“The whole experience is memorable every year,” said Bryan Misier, a Network Maintenance Technician who will celebrate 22 years with Comcast in January and has volunteered for this event every year. “It really grounds you and makes you appreciate what you have, not complain about what you don’t have.”

Comcast volunteers help prepare Thanksgiving meals, and then deliver those meals to people in need. This Thanksgiving, the team prepared more than 130 dinners and technicians drove Comcast vans to deliver those meals to more than 60 families.

“Being able to observe the raw emotion and overwhelming appreciation of an individual after he or she has been handed a warm meal, is a very humbling yet extremely empowering experience,” said technician Thomas Stewart, a first-time volunteer who started working for Comcast five months ago. “Their reaction to a complete stranger is encouraging, and makes me want to help others.”

The families who receive meals are identified by RISE: A Community Service Partnership, which strives to be the center of social support services in the Hightstown/East Windsor areas, assisting local families and individuals in the community. Volunteers prepare meals at the Americana Diner in East Windsor on Thanksgiving morning.

“I feel that with most holidays, people are always thinking about material things, and forget about what the holidays are about: sharing and spending time with your loved ones,” said Administrative Assistant Gloria Alvarez, who has been with Comcast for 18 years and has volunteered on more than 15 Thanksgiving mornings in that time. “I love that we go to the diner and put these meals together for those in need in our community, and then our techs deliver the meals in branded vehicles. It makes people see that we are not just the cable company, we care about them.”

Technician Joseph Wescott, who celebrated his one-year anniversary with Comcast two weeks before Thanksgiving, said the most important part of giving back is, “to let our community know that we do care about them, especially around the holidays.”

“I enjoy being able to help members of our community,” he continued, “and to see the gratitude from people that truly need the meals.”

For many of the Comcasters involved with this annual project, the fact that they are able to spend quality time with their family on Thanksgiving morning is what makes this truly special.

“It is important to me to set an example for my kids to follow and for them to know what type men I want them to become,” said Thomas Stewart, who volunteered with his two sons. “I want them to be aware of and thankful for what they have, but most importantly they need to be reminded of what others do not have.”

Gloria Alvarez said this Thanksgiving was a particularly emotional for her.

“It was a bit sentimental to see my son helping as he has for so many years,” she said, “and thinking that next year he will be away at college and possibly not there with me.”

Bryan Misier said he experiences memorable moments that stick with him every year. One memory that stands out is from one of his first years volunteering, when there was a gentleman whose address was a park bench at Peddie Lake in Hightstown.

“Sure enough, when we went to deliver his food, he was there,” Bryan said. “He was so appreciative of the meal, there were tears of joy in his eyes. Just the fact that we put a smile on his face was priceless. That’s what it’s about.”

Many thanks to the following Freedom Region Comcasters, who along with their family, helped make Thanksgiving brighter for people in New Jersey — Angel Ramos, Anthony LoRocco, Bryan Misier, Frank Scattareggia, Gloria Alvarez, Joseph Wescott, Mike Vuksanic and Thomas Stewart.